At Green Bay
1:00 p.m. ET
78 degrees, partly cloudy
Key Decision #1: (MIN ball, trailing 14-7 / fourth-and-5 GB 30 / 1:42 2Q)
• The Packers are an excellent team playing from ahead at home; they overwhelmingly convert leads into home wins.
• The Vikings gave up a punt block for a TD early in the game, and the Packers home crowd was emotional, but the Vikings had done a good job of responding with a good TD drive to tie the game; at this juncture, they had to try to get to halftime down only one possession.
• The decision here was to either go for the first down or try a 48-yard FG. A miss would give the Packers excellent field position and an opportunity to go up two possessions. A try for a first down, if unsuccessful, most likely would cause the Packers to start a drive from their own 30 – a longer field than a missed FG would allow.
• The Vikings have a rookie kicker, who had only made one FG at home, in a dome, the week before.
• Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer chose the FG attempt – which we felt was not the best choice. The kick was missed very badly; the Packers had great starting field position, and converted for a FG and a two-possession lead at the half.
Key Decision #2: (GB ball, leading 20-14 / third-and-2 MIN 12 / 8:16 4Q)
• The Packers started this drive on the Vikings’ 20-yard line, with a good opportunity to take a 13 point lead.
• On first down, QB Aaron Rodgers scrambled for six yards … On second down, the Packers chose to throw short
• And on third down, the Packers chose to hand the ball off on an RPO play that was stuffed.
• The Packers chose not to take any shots into the end zone – it was a curiously conservative series, and the Packers settled for a FG.
Key Decision #3: (MIN ball, score tied 29-29 / second-and-1 GB 21 / 0:32 OT)
• Mike Zimmer has an excellent chance to secure a rare road victory at Green Bay in OT, and he has two timeouts.
• On first down, with 1:17 left, RB Latavius Murray gained nine yards.
• The Vikings chose to let the clock run down. They chose not to try to get the ball even closer.
• With 0:32 seconds left, the decision is whether to try a short, quick pass and get the ball even closer for a shorter FG try; after all, Vikings rookie kicker Dan Carlson had already had two bad misses earlier in the game. And he is a rookie. In other words, no try can be too easy.
• Instead, Zimmer chose to run the ball – he gained four yards to the Green Bay 17, and he called his first timeout, and sent Carlson in for the 35-yard try.
• Carlson missed, and the Vikings left Lambeau with a tie.
• We liked the Packers’ offensive game plan generally; they wanted to get the ball out quick from QB Rodgers’ hand, and for the most part it worked.
• The handling of the end-of-game scenario by Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was curious – he simply trusted his rookie kicker and must have felt that 35 yards to win a game at Lambeau was not too daunting. It proved to be too daunting.
• Alternatively, while the Vikings moved the ball, their game plan on offense left QB Kirk Cousins exposed to a lot of hits; it was clear that the Vikings OL was not matched well against the Packers rush. Cousins got away with a few throws that should have been intercepted; the final stat line does not reflect how many balls were contested. The Vikings never really adjusted, but nevertheless, were in a position to win the game.